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GENERAL ENGLISH · BREAKING NEWS · UPPER-INTERMEDIATE (B2-C1)

MAURITIUS
OIL SPILL

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1 Warm up

Use the pictures to help you answer the questions about Mauritius.

1. Where is Mauritius? 3. Why do people visit Mauritius?


2. What languages are spoken in Mauritius? 4. What animals is Mauritius famous for?

2 Watch for main idea


Video
Watch this news report about Mauritius and then answer these questions.

1. What has happened? 3. Who is responsible?


2. How serious is it? 4. What or who is most affected?

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3 Watch for detail


Read the sentences from the report and remember/predict the missing words. The words you write
will have the same or similar meaning as the words in brackets. The first letters of the missing words
have been given. Watch the report again to check.

1. On the coast of Mauritius, clear waters and p (perfectly clean) beaches that attract
more than a million tourists each year are now s (completely covered or full of) with oil.
2. Environmentalists are calling this an ”ecological disaster” and on Sunday (August 9) the Japanese
operator of a bulk carrier [a large ship] that r a (hit the land and
couldn’t move) said sorry.
3. And that trouble could be w (happening in many different places).
4. Reuben Pillay, director of virtual tour site reubsvision.mu, says the s (oil which
has come out of the ship) is next to Ile aux Aigrettes – a natural reserve with e (native,
found in this area) and endangered species.
5. The MV Wakashio hit a r (line of rocks just below the surface of the sea) off the
southeast coast of the East African island nation on July 25 but first started l (losing
liquid) oil on Thursday (August 6).
6. Japan is sending a six-person d r t (group to help after
something terrible has happened), and France – the island’s former colonial power – will send specialist
teams and equipment.

4 Checking understanding
According to the report, what are the answers to these questions?

1. How many tourists visit Mauritius every year?


2. Which three living things does Reuben Pillay mention?
3. Why is it going to be a challenge to protect these species now?
4. Where is the reef in relation to Mauritius?
5. How many tonnes of oil has the ship leaked?

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5 Talking point
Discuss these questions in pairs or small groups.

1. Why do you think Japan and France have been the first foreign governments to offer help to
Mauritius?
2. The owners of the ship have apologised. What else do you think they should do? Do you think
they should be punished?
3. In the report, you saw people cleaning the beaches with shovels. Look at this picture, which shows
people holding a ”boom” filled with leaves and human hair, that has been donated by local people.
How do you think this works to clean up an oil leak?

4. What is the most pristine place in your country? What plants and animals are endemic to this
area? Are any of these endangered?
5. Has your country ever experienced a similar event? What happened and how did people react?

6 Extension - Did you know?


Read these two sentences. Have you heard this expression? How do you think it relates to Mauritius?

• The political party is as dead as a dodo. We need to vote them out of office.
• Are you still using an MP3 player? That technology is as dead as a dodo!

The dodo was a bird endemic to Mauritius. It was a member of the pigeon
family, but it was huge – 1 metre tall and up to 17 kg! Unsurprisingly, it could not fly. When the island
was first explored by Europeans after 1507, they introduced other animals which competed with the
dodo for food. They also hunted and killed dodos, which was very easy as the birds had no fear of
humans. The last dodo died in the middle of the 17th century. The informal expression ”dead as a
dodo” is used to refer to something that is completely gone or out of date, possibly as result of its own
stupidity.

Do you have the same/a similar expression in your language? Can you think of any more people or
things that could be described as ”dead as a dodo”?

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TEACHER MATERIALS · UPPER-INTERMEDIATE (B2-C1)

MAURITIUS OIL SPILL

Transcripts

2. Watch for main idea

TRANSCRIPT: Mauritius facing ‘ecological disaster’ from oil spill

The operator of a bulk carrier that ran aground off the coast of Mauritius has apologized, after an
oil spill that environmentalists warn is creating an ecological disaster. Soraya Ali reports.

On the coast of Mauritius, clear waters and pristine beaches that attract more than a million tourists
each year are now saturated with oil.

Environmentalists are calling this an ”ecological disaster” and on Sunday (August 9) the Japanese
operator of a bulk carrier that ran aground said sorry.

Akiho Ono, executive vice president of Mitsui OSK Lines, said ”we apologize profusely and deeply
for the great trouble we have caused.”

And that trouble could be widespread.

Reuben Pillay, director of virtual tour site reubsvision.mu, says the spill is next to Ile aux Aigrettes -
a natural reserve with endemic and endangered species.

”There’s the pink pigeon, there are giant tortoises, there’s a tree there that’s said to be 400 years old,
and they’ve been trying - the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation has been trying to preserve things there
and care for these endangered species but it’s going to prove to be quite a challenge to protect them
now, given the spill is just next to it.”

The MV Wakashio hit a reef off the southeast coast of the East African island nation on July 25 but
first started leaking oil on Thursday (August 6).

At least 1,000 tonnes of oil is estimated to have leaked from the ship onto the waters surrounding
Mauritius so far.

The government declared an ”environmental emergency” on Friday (August 7). Japan is sending a
six-person disaster relief team, and France - the island’s former colonial power - will send specialist
teams and equipment.

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TEACHER MATERIALS · UPPER-INTERMEDIATE (B2-C1)

MAURITIUS OIL SPILL

Key

1. Warm up

10 mins. The purpose of this stage is to introduce the topic and start students thinking about this news story.
Students need a bit of background information about Mauritius to help them understand the lesson. Go over the
four questions with the whole class, using the pictures to help and feeding in the answers as needed. Then ask
students if they’ve heard anything about Mauritius in the news recently, but dont confirm or deny. ANSWERS:
1. Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean.
2. People speak English, French and Creole in Mauritius.
3. One very important industry in Mauritius is tourism, including dive-tourism, but it also has significant
agricultural, mining and manufacturing industries.
4. Mauritius has giant tortoises, but also interesting and unique birds, lizards, bats and lots of ocean wildlife as
well.

2. Watch for main idea

5 mins. In this stage, students listen for three main content points from this short press conference (1.5 minutes).
Set the task and go over the questions. Then watch the video. Students can check answers in pairs - if they’d
like to watch a second time to confirm ideas, that’s fine. Check answers with the whole class, and then conclude
this stage by asking students if they could notice the New Zealand accent and if they found it easy/difficult to
understand.
1. A ship is spilling oil in the sea off the coast of Mauritius.
2. The situation is very serious - a disaster.
3. The owners of the ship are responsible.
4. Various types of wildlife will be most affected.

3. Watch for detail

10 mins. In this stage, students will listen for detailed information. Go over the instructions and perhaps demonstrate
the first exercise (without confirming or denying the answer). Then allow students time in pairs to look through
the exercise so they can remember or predict the missing words, using all the clues to help. If they dont know an
item, they should just move on to the next one. Students then listen to the report a second time before checking
answers in pairs. Often students can hear all of the phonemes of the word but need support in converting this
to plausible spellings. After you check answers with the class, they may want to listen one final time to focus
on the relationship between sound and spelling. Drill any words, phrases or sentences that were problematic for
students – the underlined syllables in the answers are stressed. All these items will be appropriate additions to
students vocabulary at this level.
1. pristine; saturated
2. ran aground
3. widespread
4. spill; endemic
5. reef; leaking
6. disaster relief team

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TEACHER MATERIALS · UPPER-INTERMEDIATE (B2-C1)

MAURITIUS OIL SPILL

4. Checking understanding

10 mins. This stage provides a final check on comprehension before students move on to discussing the issues
raised. They can work in pairs to formulate their answers. They should be prepared to justify their answers and
they can refer to the tapescript or listen again to the report if they need to. Check answers with the whole class.
1. More than a million
2. Pink pigeons, giant tortoises and a 400-year-old tree
3. The spill is just next to the island where these species live, which is a natural reserve.
4. To the southeast of the island.
5. 1,000 tonnes, so far

5. Talking point

15 mins. Students can work in pairs or small groups to discuss the questions. Encourage students to give reasons
and examples and to use vocabulary from the lesson. If your class set-up allows, you could stage the questions
and regroup students for each one, so they have an opportunity to speak to different people. Conduct a quick
class feedback at the end of the session.
ANSWERS: mostly students own answers except for questions 1 and 3: 1 – the ship is operating for a Japanese
company so the government may feel they have some responsibility for the disaster and Mauritius is a former
colony of France, so the two countries have a close relationship. 3 – a boom floats on the water and collects the
spilled oil, which also floats on the surface of the water, to stop it reaching the shore, which is very difficult to
clean. Human hair is an excellent material for this, as it collects and holds lots of oil.

6. Extension - Did you know?

5 mins. This is an extra piece of information about a common informal expression in English and its interesting
relationship with Mauritius. Go over the information and give students a couple of minutes to reflect on similar
expressions in their own language.

FOOOOTERAPPENDIXRIGHT
Learn without forgetting! iii
Scan the QR at the top of Page 1 to review the lesson flashcards with Expemo.
© Linguahouse.com. Photocopiable and licensed for use in PABLO TEJEDOR's lessons.